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Tiny Telescope Implanted in Eye May Reduce Vision Loss for Some

Tiny Telescope Implanted in Eye May Reduce Vision Loss for Some


A tiny telescope that can be implanted in the eye to help victims of severe macular degeneration has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The device cannot fully restore vision, but early results show a significant improvement for most recipients.

The implantable miniature telescope (IMT) was designed to deal with end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that destroys the macula, the central area of the retina responsible for most of a person's vision. It is estimated that about 8 million Americans suffer from AMD, with nearly 2 million experiencing significant vision loss. There is currently no treatment to stop its progression.

The IMT is intended to treat those over 75 whose AMD has stabilized, as determined by periodic examinations for the number and size of blind spots in the macular region.

Device Diverts Light to Healthy Retinal Area

The IMT replaces the eye's natural lens and diverts light rays to a healthy portion of the retina beyond the damaged macula. It is intended for use in only one eye, since it blocks peripheral vision in the treated eye, leaving the untreated eye to provide peripheral vision.

IMT maker VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc., of Saratoga, Calif., says the device should allow those with severe vision loss to recover their ability to recognize people and facial expressions. Testing and training with an external telescopic device is required before IMT implantation, to determine if the surgery candidate can successfully adapt to the IMT.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, in a clinical study of more than 200 IMT recipients, 75 percent who suffered from severe to profound vision loss improved to the level of moderate vision loss.

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